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Summer holiday part 1: Jakarta

3 days ago I was back to The Netherlands after nearly a month vacationing in Indonesia. I went there with 3 families (my brother in law’s, my husband’s friend and our’s). The group consists of  6 adults and 4 kids varying  from 9 – 13 years old. We traveled through Java and Bali within 28 days. I have decided to share stories about this summer holiday here in 4 parts.

Why this blog post?
I often hear from people I know who have been to this city that they don’t like it. It is too crowded and dirty. True and true. I always answer in return that when they don’t know what to see or do there they would get this impression. Hence here is a short guide about Jakarta according to what I know.

Monas or Monumen Nasional (National Monument) Jakarta's landmark

Jakarta Jakarta
I have lived in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia untill my 23rd before I moved to The Netherlands. Jakarta’s nickname is the big durian (a notoriously delicious fruit). Everybody in the country wants a bit of this durian which causes horrific traffic and overpopulation. So when you visit the city, just surrender to it. Like I did when I was there 3,5 weeks ago. Do not get irritated by the traffic. Let the city lead you to make your stay bearable or should I say enjoyable?

Jakarta Traffic

By the fourteenth century the Sunda Kelapa harbor located in the north of the city was an important trading port for the Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran in what is called Bogor nowadays. Portuguese ships arrived in the harbour at 1513. 22 June 1527 is the officially acknowledged birthday date of Jakarta. At that day Muslim troops from Cirebon and Demak led by Fatahillah took over the city. At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Dutch settled down in Sunda Kelapa, building some fortresses. Later in that century the Dutch changed the name of Sunda Kelapa to Batavia which remained so untill 1942. Dutch East Indie Companies set many buildings in Batavia at that time. Some of them are vanished. Some are well-preserved like those located in the Old Town (Kota Toea) and at and around the Fatahillah Square (see pics).

Museum Fatahillah, former Batavia Cityhall, Jakarta

Old Town with old Dutch style buildings, Jakarta

Where to stay?
Jakarta is divided into 5 regions: North, South, East, West and Center. Many (chain) hotels are located in North, Center and East. The business district The Golden Triangle is located somewhere in Center and South Jakarta. Downtown behind the Sarinah Department Store (country’s first shopping centre) there is a backpacker area called Jalan Jaksa. This is not suitable for traveling families. Government buildings stand at the Center region around National Monument. In the east side of the monument there is Gambir train station. When you continue your journey to other big cities in Java, this is the station for depart. As an ex South Jakartan I highly recommend South or Center Jakarta as regions to stay. Most hotels at those regions have an easy access (ok, don’t mind the traffic) to the out ter ring road which allows you reach other destinations outside the city easily.

What to eat?
Eating would not be a problem at all. There are enough choices from different price ranges, from extremely cheap to splurge. In almost every shopping mall there is a food court where one can choose what he wants to eat out of various stalls (see pic). Dare devils can try street food. Just go to one of the hawkers on the street and place your order. Some hotels and restaurants also offer menu sets for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some even have live bands as entertainment on week ends. Just check their website for this.

Food court Plaza Senayan Jakarta

Shop till you drop
The past years Malaysian tourists have discovered Jakarta as the place to shop till they drop. Who can blame them anyway? Go to Tanah Abang (West Jakarta) for various articles from ready to wear clothes to carpets. Mangga Dua and Pasar Baru (North Jakarta) are famous for their clothes and apparel. Glodok in Chinatown is the place to buy gadgets and auto spare parts and many more. World’s A brands are widely represented in many chique shopping malls.

What to do?
Don’t have time to visit the whole archipel? No worries, just go to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. Within one day you can see all regions in Indonesia in miniature form. Nearby there are Orchid Garden and a Bird Park. Taman Impian Jaya Ancol up north is a themed park with a Seaworld, Amusement Park, Yacht marina and many more.  Are you more like an active tourist? Pick one of the water parks Jakarta offers. Looking for more adventure? Book an arrangement to Kepulauan Seribu. North of Jakarta there are approximately 110 tiny islands spread in Java Sea. Those are called Kepulauan Seribu (a group of thousand islands). In the following islands of Kepulauan Seribu there are resorts Ayer, Bidadari, Sepa, Putri, Pelangi, Alam Kotok and Pantara. The rest of the islands have basic accommodation or no accommodation at all.

Everytime I am there I love to visit places where I was a regular, the schools I went to etc. Unfortunately the city changes so quickly. Sometimes I become mellow cause I search for something which doesn’t exist anymore. I guess this is a consequence of living abroad, isn’t it?

I wish you good times in the Big Durian. Whatever you do there, just enjoy your stay.

Also available in this travel story series:



12 thoughts on “Summer holiday part 1: Jakarta

  1. Have been there last month. And, yes you’re absolutely right: you should know the right places. It helps if you have a trustworthy guide ( well I was lucky with a son+ daughter in law at my side). Of course that’s not different from other cities. But I definitely agree: the metropolis is fascinating indeed – even if you are. like I am, not in to shopping.

    • Shopping Galore is not suitable for me anymore as there were too many malls to choose from in Jakarta. In Jakarta there are always new places to discover. I think I have a love hate attitude towards it.

  2. The traffic makes it’ tricky. My kids love to watch kids’ cultural performances at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta. But the trip was always exhausting as we would spent 2 hours on the way to, 1 hour watching at GKJ and another 2 hours on the way back!!!

    • Yep, the horrific traffic makes me think twice when planning my itineraries of the day just to decrease it but then it is a wishful thinking San, Jakarta without traffic.

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